For our meeting this week, we started discussing the details of our coding system. After observing the music therapy session, it was clear that it would be challenging to pinpoint specific tools and strategies that make music therapy what it is – so much of it is organic and spontaneous, and an effective session requires a comprehensive understanding of each individual’s needs and level of verbal ability.
We determined that the overarching approach was non-directive, with three specific strategies that we would be looking at – student-directed decision making, responsive prompting, and creating a “safe space”. Within each of these strategies, we will also have to account for factors like body language, tone, and verbal language used by the teachers. In the coming weeks, we will be working together to come up with a coding scheme that we can use in classrooms next semester.
The music therapy session really helped us to contextualize and visualize everything we’ve been talking about in the past month, and it was such a wonderful experience. I loved watching the way the children responded to the music, and it was so uplifting to see how it encouraged them to verbalize and interact with each other. The music therapist really impressed me with her “tolerance for chaos”, in Lauren’s words. I work with elementary school children regularly, and it is incredibly tempting to be frustrated and disappointed with myself when things don’t seem to be ‘in order’ – when someone doesn’t seem to be engaged, or when someone refuses to participate in an activity. The music therapist gave the children space and freedom to do what they needed to in the moment, be it standing up and walking around, taking over the playing of drums, or erasing something on the board, without compromising the flow of the session.
In other news, Senate Bill 676, the autism insurance bill, just passed the house! Families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder will be provided $40,000 in annual insurance coverage for autism behavioral health treatment from the time of diagnosis through age 18. This will go a long way in helping to ensure that individuals with autism have access to behavioral health treatment, and having witnessed just one of the various treatments available, I’m sure that this will have a huge impact on the lives of individuals with autism and their loved ones.